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May 2, 2008

NEC and ExCeL perfectly positioned to capitalise on casino licences

Tuesday’s announcement that Manchester has won the super casino bid may have pulled the rug out from underneath one potential new exhibition venue, but for two other stalwarts of the business this could be massive news.

Ultimately, the Dome, which had an exhibition space as an integral part of its plan, saw its bid for the super casino fail amid accusations of dodgy dealings and tapping up. However, with casino licenses being granted to both Solihull and Newham, both ExCeL London and the NEC Group look to be in a strong position to benefit.

For the NEC Group, the opportunity to convince Solihull that it’s in everyone’s interest to house the new casino on its hallowed turf would be a major step towards it plans for the corporate playground.

Equally, for ExCeL, a deal with Newham could open the doors to further phases in the venue’s development. Here, the only venue that has been seriously mooted is West Ham Football Club, but to the outsider it would seem ExCeL was the most obvious place to base the casino.

Furthermore, ExCeL has been a key supporter of Newham’s bid… so surely Newham owes them one? Obviously, this is something of a contentious issue and, according to ExCeL, they still have to bid for the right to house the casino. But after the surprise even on the faces of the BBC reporters who failed to take Manchester’s bid seriously, it’s not over till it’s over!

Commenting on Newham’s casino licence, Jamie Buchan, chief executive of ExCeL, said: “I believe that the location of a large casino in Newham can, if carefully managed and integrated into a wider leisure development, act as a catalyst for further regeneration and employment within this ambitious borough.”


ExCeL London's Jamie Buchan

Buchan continued: “ExCeL London is already the key venue for business events in the Capital and plans to create a destination of world standing for both leisure and business. The already excellent transport infrastructure will continue to be developed as routes from Stratford International Station, new services to the adjacent London City Airport and the Crossrail connectivity at Custom House for ExCeL come on stream. The opportunity to incorporate a casino within our plans could prove significant in attracting further leisure operators to the ExCeL campus ensuring that we provide the world class exhibition and 3,500 capacity conference centre and supporting hotel, leisure and entertainment facilities which is vital to the London plan.”

Meanwhile, Paul Thandi, CEO of the NEC Group, said: " We were extremely pleased to see Solihull included in the list of local authorities recommended by the Casino Advisory Panel to be able to award a large casino licence. Now the hard work begins for The NEC Group in identifying a suitable partner and preparing a detailed bid to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to win that licence for the National Exhibition Centre.

"The addition of a casino would provide a logical and valuable additional 'string to the NEC's bow' in a competitive global venue market, by adding a valuable leisure element to the overall visitor experience. As part of a much broader master plan for the site and ongoing investment it will ensure that the NEC is able to provide an exciting and vibrant environment in which organisers host their events."

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